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recharge your DWR

i just spent a few hours out in the rain. i rate it as medium - steady, not light, but definitely not pounding either. it was nearly 70 degrees this morning, so i wore a gore tex hard shell with the armpit zips fully unzipped, a pair of running shorts, a t-shirt, and water sandals. 20 minutes in, i noted that while the jacket was keeping all the water out, the rain had stopped beading up on the fabric.

the beading up is important. gore tex, eVent, and other waterproof/breathable fabrics (a) benefit from frequent washing to keep the tiny pores clear so they can vent moisture and (b) don't work nearly as well if the outside of the fabric is wet - the water that collects on the outside also blocks vapor from coming through the pores. DWR, durable water repellant, is the treatment on the outside of your hard shell that helps water bead up and roll off, as opposed to saturating the fabric.

sometimes, you can rejuvenate DWR with a quick run through a warm (but not hot) clothes dryer. Some manufacturers even recommend using a warm iron to rejuvenate the factory-impregnated DWR. You can't go wrong by following the manufacturer's instructions. i would never put a warm or hot iron near a nylon shell jacket or pants because i would be too concerned about damaging the fabric, but Outdoor Research recommends using a warm iron or clothes dryer for its gore tex shells. i also don't put eVent garments in the clothes dryer because the manufacturers and the company that makes eVent seem to universally recommend drip-drying. (notably, though, most Gore Tex products and Gore favor running the garment in a warm dryer).  

While i generally check this before a big trip, properly cleaning and treating hard shells isn't part of my regular routine. i'm not at all surprised that my jacket needs a good clean and re-treat, i'm sure i haven't done that in months. and i wear this particular jacket quite a bit. it's in the washer now, along with my favorite pair of rain pants, running in warm water  with nikwax tech wash or Sport Wash - i buy whatever is less expensive or on sale. though neither of these generates much in the way of soapy suds, you can get Sport Wash for high efficiency clothes washes like the front-loader we have at home.

another consideration is how to re-apply DWR. there are several brands.  i have tried three of them, and they all seem to work about the same if you follow the instructions carefully. gore and eVent don't distinguish, saying spray-on or wash-in are both fine, but some manufacturers express a preference for spraying on. (wash-in means that right after you clean your jacket, you dump an ounce or two of the DWR into the washer and run it again.  spray -on speaks for itself, you take the wet garment out of the washer, shake off the extra water, hang it, and spray the exterior with a spray bottle).  i have tried spray-on treatments a few times, and honestly, i miss spots. and it's messy. i use wash-in DWR, whether the manufacturers recommend it or not, because it seems to be the only way i can get uniform results.  


Good does help to do that and maybe that's my issue.

I've honestly never been impressed with any rain jacket I've ever owned.

I started out with the cheap Coleman jackets from walmart and they were terrible and less effective than a $5 plastic poncho. I then used a North Face jacket (don't remember the model) that was better, but still would wet out in short order. My primary winter/heaviest choice is a Mountain Hardware Typhoon (Gore Pac-Lite), and after four years, it is de-laminating in spots but like all the others reaches some saturation point and wets-through. For minimal weather I use a Marmot Essence (Nano-Pro Membrane); it wets out quickly in heavy rain and if all you have is a base layer on it gets incredibly clammy against the skin.

I've observed that these multi-layer gore jackets will keep you safe by keeping you warmer (and blocking some wind) but they don't really keep you dry.

This last weekend I employed the "it's warm enough to just get wet" philosophy but the relentless downpour and long days on the trail incurred other problems for me: after three consecutive 20 + mile days of non-stop rain my clothes were causing chafing in areas I don't normally get chafing. I probably should have used some raingear to mitigate the saturation, oh well...I'm still trying to figure out the best systems and practices.

Patman said:

I've honestly never been impressed with any rain jacket I've ever owned..

 fellas - I have a marmot oracle rain jacket and it is great very breathable,rugged and great features. now I'll admit that it is a little warm for summer and clammy but in all other seasons it is great and even in summer at higher elevations it performs better than any rain jacket I,ve ever used. In winter it works especially well warm and great wind breaker. I used it for a year at work also, to test it out no problems what so ever and I've had it about 4 or 5 years. the matching pants can might even be better, they can be put on like basketball player tear-offs very easy and convenient with a pack on. If your interested you can still find some of them on Amazon and other sources much cheaper than what I paid $200. Also another one that I picked up for a buddy at work that may be much more breathable and he swears by it is Frogg Toggs Firebelly Stone. I picked it up for him at Sportsmans Warehouse in Columbia S.C. for $65. It is a much better grade than the normal toggs. we put these both thru some pretty ruff weather and conditions at work in bushes stretching and carrying reals of cable and ladder with tools and the both have worked well and I've had mine on trail with great success and we have yet to need any kind of coating for either one. just though I tell you about them you might want to take a  look.     

Thanks John

rain gear for summer is never going to be perfect. my primary requirement for warmer weather is armpit zips - long enough to really offer some ventilation. it won't keep you dry from the inside, you'll still sweat while hiking in the rain, but the armpit zips and front zipper are the best way to let moisture out in the summer for me.  regardless of whether it's gore tex or eVent or some other solution. or, you could use a poncho if it's not too windy.  

DWR doesn't last forever for any jacket, no matter the quality or price. the one i just refreshed is an arcteryx jacket that is several months old, but i wear it quite a bit.  

My first step is just to wash it as you are doing, because dirt on the surface of the jacket may prevent the DWR from working i.e. sometimes the DWR works by reducing surface tension so water beads and runs off instead of sticking to soak in.  If that isn't enough, then I understand that heat, like form a dryer, will reactivate the DWR.  I use a hair dryer.  This has worked for me most of the time.  My next step is to use a spray like scotchguard or campdry.  I haven't had to go further than this step. (I test between steps by putting the jacket on and going into the shower.)   

Hey Andrew I,ve never washed or dried mine at all. You may have said already but do you put it in a regular washer?(I'm asking for learning purposes) That idea has always scared me. I,ve just cleaned using a rag, water hose and air dry then I would Lysol air freshener the inside before putting it up. seems to have worked so far an my jacket still looks new. It's the same thing I do for my tents and back packs. any problem you see with my approach?  

Blastidarryl for a backpack or tent, I too use a hose, no soap, and let them air dry.  Clothing inevitably accumulates some oil from your body that can affect the tiny pores in a waterproof breathable membrane or coating.  Regular machine clothes washer is fine, manufacturers may recommend a gentler cycle.  KEY point, dont use regular detergent.  sport wash, tech wash, or another non detergent.

John- I would not be using Lysol air freshener on a jacket. The amount of aerosols and junk in the stuff will just clog up the WPB. It will negate any of the cleaning you did on the outside of the jacket be because the water won't be coming in, but you'll drench yourself in your own sweat. This is especially true in a 2.5 layer shell such as the Oracle. It's the same reason Andrew said not to use regular detergents (it just blocks and clogs up the pores.

well other than just airing them out after cleaning how else would you guy recommend killing any remaining bacteria? I just don't want to put my oracle jacket in a washer for the same reasons that you've already mention. up to this point I've never coated anything just bought new when needed but since I have so much invested in this gear and like what I have I've been trying to listen to what you guys say about it for the time when I need too.

let me retract that I did try one time about 6,7 or 8 year ago to scothguard my new hiking poncho tried it out at work and got my butt soaked(darn shame I was so proud of that poncho one of those longer ones designed for backpackers) gave it away and haven't give the subject much thought till coming here to TS.

January 23, 2021
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